How a plasma cutter works | Actividad Contemporanea
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How a plasma cutter works

Plasma Cutter

How a plasma cutter works

The plasma arc system has brought forth major changes in the speed, accuracy, and types of cuts manufacturers were capable of making in metals. According to, plasma cutters come in different shapes and sizes, ranging from huge plasma cutters to small, compact tools for precise cuts. However, irrespective of the size, all plasma cutters function on the same principle and are designed similarly.

Components of a plasma system

plasma system

  1. Power Supply – The power supply of the plasma is responsible for converting a single of three phase AC line voltage into a smoother DC voltage which ranges from 200 to 400VDC. This DC voltage is tasked with maintaining the plasma arc throughout the duration of the cut.
  2. Arc Starting Console – the ASC produces an AC voltage of around 5,000 VAC at 2Mhz which is responsible for producing the spark inside of the plasma torch in order to create the arc.
  3. Plasma Torch – The plasma torch is involved in providing suitable alignment and the cooling of consumables.

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How do they work?

Plasma cutters operate by sending a pressurized gas such as nitrogen or oxygen through a small channel. A negatively charged electrode is placed in the centre of this channel. Applying power to the negative electrode and then touching the tip of the nozzle to the metal leads to the creation of a circuit, generating a powerful spark between the electrode and the metal. While the gas passes through the channel, the spark works on heating the gas until it attains the fourth state of matter.


A 30,000 F stream of directed plasma is created as a result of this equation which then reduces the metal to a molten slag. The plasma in itself operates an electrical current. Creating the arc is a cyclic process which continues until the power is supplied to the electrode, with the plasma and the metal being in contact. This contact between the plasma and metal is extremely essential. Moreover, the cut needs to be protected from oxidation, and since the plasma slightly unpredictable, and thus its nature needs to be regulated and supervised. To serve these specific functions, the cutter nozzle comes with a second set of channels. These channels are responsible for releasing a continuous flow of shielding gas around the cutting region. This gas flow thus keeps the radius of the plasma beam in check.

The high speed gas that goes through the nozzle thus cuts through the molten metal. In many plasma cutters in the market today, the arc between the electrode and the nozzle ionizes the gas and generates the plasma initially, even before to the arc transfer. There are also other methods used for more information on that read this post now. However, neither of these two methods are compatible with CNC cutting.

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